Yawn? Not really
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The Nagpur pitch, according to Bishen Bedi, is "disgraceful." Sir Ian Botham has termed it "the worst I've seen in a long, long time." Ravindra Jadeja said it had nothing in it for anyone. "The viewers," said Kevin Pietersen, "have got no interest in what I've got to say because they switched off four or five hours ago."
This viewer was a little perplexed. He did switch off, but very reluctantly, and only so he could rush to office and resume watching . Yes, it was an exaggeratedly slow wicket, with minimal bounce. Runs came at 2.22 an over across the first two days. Bowlers, denied fangs and quick-acting venom, had to earn wickets through constriction. Pietersen scored his second-slowest half-century. Jadeja plugged away, stump-to-stump, for what seemed like a decade-long spell.
It was a darkly absorbing spectacle.
The wicketkeeper collected the ball ankle high, and not always on the first bounce. When the ball was pitched short, batsmen flinched – not because it would zip past their ears but because they weren't quite sure if it would rise knee-high or waist-high.
The wicket, in short, pulled everyone out of their comfort zones. And yet, a good batsman could make runs if he applied himself. A good bowler could take wickets if he used the conditions intelligently. You were unlikely to score 639 for five, and you wouldn't be bowled out for 97.
If you, like Joe Root, made a 229-ball 73 on debut, you would be extremely proud.
Sure, there were no hooks or on-the-up drives, and no edges flying to slip. But it was a delicately balanced contest, and viewers with an awareness of the game and a broad appreciation of all its facets will have been hooked. No matter what Pietersen says, fans of Test cricket have an attention span. They don't need an adrenaline rush every over to stay committed to the sport they love.
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